CUNY Debuts LEED Platinum Science Hall

NEW YORK — Lehman College Science Hall at City University of New York (CUNY) recently achieved LEED Platinum certification. The science hall was dedicated in October 2012 and opened for classes in time for the 2013 spring semester.

The 69,000-square-foot building replaced an existing science and research building on campus that wasn’t large enough to accommodate the program that the school envisioned, said Jon DiBiase, senior project executive for Gilbane Building Company, the general contractor on the project. Perkins + Will served as the architect and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York built the building. All companies in the project team have offices in New York.

The LEED goal was part of the early planning stages and was originally targeted to achieve LEED Gold. DiBiase said that during preconstruction the matrix was set up for LEED Platinum, but they weren’t sure whether or not they could achieve it depending on how the points played out.

“This building fundamentally validates the notion that achieving LEED Platinum certification is possible on a modest institutional budget,” said Breeze Glazer, research knowledge manager, LEED AP for Perkins + Will, in a statement. “With an experienced design and construction team and a dedicated owner, LEED Platinum proved to be a near cost-neutral effort that will benefit CUNY throughout the lifecycle of the building.”

The building is linked by a multi-story glass atrium and features a façade that uses seven different materials. It includes a variety of lab support spaces, faculty offices and seminar rooms. A teaching and research greenhouse is also situated on the building’s rooftop. Other green building elements include a graywater feature that recirculates water for toilet flushing fixtures, as well as rooftop solar panels that heat the building’s water. Joshua Blitz, project manager at Gilbane Building Company, said it was the first time the company had built a greenhouse, and the project team was very happy with the result.

This construction project is the first phase of a three-phrase project at the school, which posed as a challenge because it required the project team to create the backbone that would fit the infrastructure for phase two and phase three. The project team worked on the smallest building of the three-phase project, but they were tasked with creating all the water and electrical services, Blitz said. The foundation was also a challenge, DiBiase said, because there was bedrock that went down 40 feet and a high water table level.

The faculty and director of facilities at the school were very involved in the project and made sure that some of the design criteria included services for the spaces they would occupy to conduct particular research, DiBiase said. The Lehman College has about 12,000 students and serves the Bronx community. The school’s end goal is to become a gateway to the sciences for those students by addressing the need for the advancement of science and technology.

The school’s future building goals are to build as sustainable as possible to attract students and high-level researchers. “When you have a LEED Platinum building, it’s going to be more appealing to people to go to school or work there,” DiBiase said.

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